Good morning! Today is the second installment of the blog kickoff for the Fairy Bell Sisters! Books 1 and 2 are out on shelves now. For Part II: Behind the Scenes With the Bells, I'd love to show you some sketching from the studio...
Once again, I found myself drawing siblings, and sisters, no less! As the oldest of five kids, it's always fun to seek out that "family resemblance" and build from there. There were lots of conversations about the Bell sisters between Margaret, Donna, Amy and the sales team. We settled on the idea that every fairy would look related but be distinctly individual (in hair color, skin tone, facial features, clothing style). I knew from the manuscript that these fairies lived in a very natural world and loved to play and accessorize with mussel shells and pine cones, feather skirts and milkweed pods...
(Pardon the sushi!)
Style #1: Crayon (Interesting to imagine the series if it had gone this way, right?)
Style #2: Realism
The team decided on realism, so I set to work on the sisters. At this point, I only had the manuscript for the first book. My favorite job as an illustrator is to extract visual clues from the author's story, and balance that with how they behave in my imagination. Choosing wing colors and variations on each fairy was a SUPER girlhood dream come true...I was in second-grade again!
Sylva was always platinum blonde in my mind, a little translucent and wispy. She's brave too (as you will see in the troll battle) and quick-thinking. Sylva always seems wide-eyed to me and seeking adventure. I kept imagining her as if she'd JUST landed for a moment to say hello before flying off again...
From the text, I knew Clara had dark skin that shimmered against an aqua gown. She is the oldest, very strong-willed, and a confident leader for her sisters. I gave her a noble gaze.
Then we started on the first two cover sketches. Sylva would be holding a mermaid's pearl or sea glass (from her exploits on the beach) and Rosy would have an armful of wild flowers (for a certain summer child...)
And as you might imagine, there were MYRIAD outfit changes in the course of sketching and revised sketching, painting, and Photoshopping! I think we got Sylva and Rosy to where they needed to be:
Thanks for stopping by! Come back next week for Part III: Visiting Sheepskerry Island, my trip to meet author Margaret McNamara and our real-life adventures on Sheepskerry Island!
You can read Part I: Fairy Bell Release Day HERE.